Child and social services advocates criticize a congressional spending resolution that would make severe cuts in program for K-12 education, child welfare, early learning and youth services in the FY 2016 budget that begins on Oct. 1.
The House passed (226-197) the FY 2016 Budget Resolution (S. Con. Res. 11) and the Senate passed it last week. With both chambers led by the GOP, the resolution is the first joint one Congress has passed in six years and is the result of a conference agreement reconciling House and Senate spending plans. It aims to stay within the $1.017 trillion spending cap required by sequestration and would dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
The Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of 117 social service and education associations, sent a letter to Senate leaders urging them to reject the spending plan. Since the plan regulates congressional funding levels, it does not need the president’s approval to go into effect.
It slashes human services spending by $496 billion (-9.9%) over nine years, while significantly increasing defense spending above current levels, CEF said.
It would slash mandatory funding for education, training and employment programs by $162.1 billion over ten years. Although the conference report itself doesn’t specify the details of that cut, debate from the appropriations committees shows the GOP intends to eliminate $84.6 billion in mandatory Pell funding, likely resulting in a cut to the Pell maximum award from $5,775 to $4,860 (a cut of $915 or 15.8%).
In the following years, the plan would make deeper cuts to child services programs. For example it calls for a 5.2% cut in FY 2017. If these discretionary cuts were applied equally to all agencies, the Education Dept. would be cut by $3.49 billion in FY 2017 and Head Start in HHS by an additional $421 million, CEF says. That would mean substantial reductions to Title I aid to high-poverty schools; IDEA funds for students with disabilities; Impact Aid; teacher quality grants; after-school programs; magnet school aid; English Language Acquisition grants; TRIO and GEAR UP, CEF said.